The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Missouri Southern Sports

May 20, 2012

Springfield beats Joplin in law enforcement charity football game

The last time David Thaman played a football it was right where he was standing, on the field at Missouri Southern’s Fred G. Hughes Stadium in the 1980s.

The last time Mike Coviello suited up, it was as a high school senior on Long Island a couple years earlier.

The last time Daryl Daye coached a football game, it was against a guy named Tim Tebow.

All three were back at it on Saturday.

Approximately 45 area law enforcement and rescue personnel — with MSSU coach Daye spontaneously at the helm — took on Springfield-area police and fire fighters on Saturday for the inaugural Battle of the Badges, a game held to raise money for the Tim Nielson Memorial Scholarship fund.

The Joplin side, dubbed the Enforcers, dropped an 8-7 decision to the Guns in front of a decent crowd.

“ I travel all across the country for the FOP and I’m not aware of anywhere else that takes it this seriously,” said Coviello, who is based in Pompano Beach, Fla., as the Associate General Counsel for the Fraternal Order of Police. “We’re at a college stadium, for crying out loud. This is an amazing thing. And the fact that it’s being done for charity, I’m all in.”

Both teams scored in the first quarter — Joplin’s points came courtesy of a 60-plus-yard run from Walter Coleman, a Carl Junction fire fighter — but Springfield converted on a two-point conversion for the final difference in the game.

Thaman, who was a kicker for Missouri Southern from 1984 to 1987, set up for a game-winning attempt from 40 yards out in the final minute, but the snap was high and the kick was short, ensuring Springfield’s victory.

“When it comes to field goal kicking, the kicker is actually probably the most least important guy of three,” said Thaman, now the investigator with the Jasper County Prosecutor’s Office and the oldest player on the Enforcers on Saturday. “You have your snapper and holder and then the kicker. And all three have to be perfect and it all didn’t work out for us today.

“But this was great. Absolutely fantastic. Especially for me since I played here. It was a really good experience to come back and play the game where I played college ball.”

Daye, who took over the MSSU football program in December, found himself coaching the Enforcers when he was invited to the sideline after giving the team a pregame pep talk.

“I guess I have a bad tendency to get a little too involved, but it turned into a lot of fun,” he said. “I wish we could have won, but it was a really good football game. I had a blast.”

Daye is back in Joplin after serving as an assistant coach for the Buffalo Bills over the last few seasons. His last game with the team came on Christmas Eve, when the Bills beat Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 40-14.

“ I laughed because they asked me about the last game I coached and it was against a guy named Tebow,” Daye said. “But I tell ya, I didn’t have any more fun then than I did today. It was awesome.”

Coviello was one of the final players to leave the field after the two teams shook hands and mingled and the Guns were presented with the first Battle of the Badges trophy.

“I never thought I would do this again,” he said. “I was teaching a seminar last year for the FOP and a bunch of guys from both of these teams started talking about the game and asked if I’d play. I said ‘Are you kidding me? Absolutely?”

It gave him another chance to suit up and play football, something he thought would never happen again after a fall night at Northport (N.Y.) High School.

“I remember standing on the sidelines my senior year watching the clock tick down and I was thinking ‘this is the last time I’ve ever going to do this,’” he said. “And then along come the Joplin Enforcers.”

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